Opera Special Feature: 101 Best Opera CDs
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101 Best

Lehar: The Merry Widow
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Lisa Otto, Nicolai Gedda, Erich Kunz
Philharmonia Orchestra
Otto Ackermann, conductor

The first of Angel's "champagne operettas" in 1953, and never surpassed despite the few cuts and the bassy voice of Kunz as Danilo; he nonetheless has the music in his bones, while Schwarzkopf had not yet acquired the mannerisms which disfigure the remake.

Liszt: Songs
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Joerg Demus, piano

Gérard Souzay, baritone; Dalton Baldwin, piano

You won't find either of these in the shops as they have never been reissued. F-D's remake with Barenboim is available but lacks the freshness of the earlier version, although you get much more music. Souzay, as always, offers the antidote to those who find F-D too emphatic.

Lully: Atys
Agnès Mellon, Guillemette Laurens, Guy de Mey, Jean-François Gardeil
Chorus and Orchestra of Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, conductor
Harmonia Mundi

The recording which revealed Lully's genius to a suspicious public, based on a historic stage performance, which helps the performers recreate the theatrical atmosphere for the microphone. Christie is the inspirational factor, much abetted by the original stage director, Jean-Marie Villègier.

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